This week’s Friday Resource comes from HBR and features four common mistakes that leaders continue to make.
Over the last half century, approaches to leadership have shifted and grown dramatically. Regardless, some areas (even with the most progressive and advanced training programs in place) continue to be problematic in organizations.
The most seasoned of leaders are prone to fall into certain traps, and these traps are often outside their awareness. The more aware leaders become of these behaviors, the more they will be able to mitigate their impact.
Per Robert H. Schaffer, HBR, here are the four main behavioral traps to be mindful of:
Behavior Trap 1: Failing to Set Proper Expectations
Everyone has seen senior managers announce major directional changes or new goals without spelling out credible plans for achieving them or specifying who’s accountable: for instance, “We are going to reduce the use of cash by 40% next year” or “We are going to cut train accidents significantly” or “We are going to shift focus from midmarket customers to the upper end during the next two years.” Such efforts go nowhere.
Behavior Trap 2: Excusing Subordinates from the Pursuit of Overall Goals
Every operating or staff manager is naturally preoccupied with the performance of her own unit. People with such singular focus tend to “delegate” responsibility for organization-wide performance upward to already overloaded senior managers, who often don’t push back.
Behavior Trap 3: Colluding with Staff Experts and Consultants
The work performed by internal staff experts and external consultants has multiplied by 20 to 40 times in the past five decades, and the scope of their activity has greatly expanded. But the vast majority of them still get senior management to go along with the same old flawed contract: They agree to deliver their “product” (such as a new system, organization structure, marketing plan, training program, or corporate strategy)—and even to implement it—but they don’t assume responsibility for outcomes. They imply that performance will improve but almost never include measurable gains as part of the deal.
Behavior Trap 4: Waiting While Associates Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
When senior managers challenge people to improve sales, accelerate turnaround, reduce costs, develop products faster, or make other needed improvements, the usual response is “Yes, but first we have to…” Finish the sentence: Train our people. Study the market. Replace a key player who retired. Launch the new system. Set up focus groups with some customers. Bring in Six Sigma. Make our culture more change oriented. And so forth.
Read the full article here.